Tokyo Olympics: Equestrian rider Fouaad Mirza targets positive finish in historic Olympic appearance

Double Asian Games medallist equestrian Fouaad Mirza secured an Olympic quota after finishing as the top-ranked rider in his group in the qualifiers, ending a wait spanning nearly two decades.

Fouaad Mirza and Seigneur Medicott   -  AFP

Fouaad Mirza (Eventing)

Ranking: 74

Form guide: 2021: 2nd place finish in a CCI4*S in one of the legs of the FEI Nations Cup in Strzegom, Poland with Dajara 4; 2nd place finish (Seigneur Medicott) and 3rd place finish (Dajara 4) in a CCI4*-L show in Baborowko, Poland

Chosen horse: Seigneur Medicott

Favourites in event: Oliver Townend [Great Britain], Tim Price [New Zealand], Piggy March [Great Britain], Christopher Burton [Australia], Michael Yung [Germany], Sandra Auffarth - who is also Mirza's coach [Germany]

Fouaad Mirza is India's lone representative in equestrian at the Tokyo Olympics. The 29-year-old's penchant for the sport runs in the family. His father, Hasneyn Mirza is a renowned equine veterinarian. Mirza's equestrian career incidentally started from pursuing a career in racing. Mirza trained with revered jockey-turned-trainer Pesi Shroff before settling for the Olympic-recognised variant as his preferred discipline.

Mirza's Olympic debut comes over 20 years after the last Indian equestrian representation in the quadrennial event - Imtiaz Anees in Sydney in 2000 and Indrajit Lamba at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

READ: Fouaad Mirza's road to Tokyo: Of last-minute changes and old champions

The Bengaluru-born rider rose to fame when he won two silver medals in individual and team eventing in the 2018 Asian Games, India's first since Raghubir Singh finished on the podium in 1982.

In the run-up to the Tokyo Games, Mirza has been training and living in Bergedorf in north-west Germany and participating in events in that part of Europe. He secured the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) on both his horses - Asian Games medallist Seigneur Medicott and Dajara 4 - initially picking Dajara as his partner for the Olympics. Three days before the official start of the Olympics, Mirza switched to his Asian Games partner, Medicott. The gelding took Mirza to two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. He also finished second in a in a CCI4*L event in Baborowko, Poland, to secure an individual MER.

Mirza will hope to break into the top 25 in a field filled with dominant personalities in the world of equestrian sports, including his coach and Olympic champion, Germany's Sandra Auffarth.

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